The Handsome Helper and I set off for Paris (aka my 'happy place') in late May to do some intense searching for flavor, texture & shape inspirations for the next big product from Marlo's Bakeshop. Should it be gluten-free? Redolent of fresh fruit? Vegan? Or decadently chocolate-laden? These were all questions we arrived to the City of Love with, hoping to eat our way to the answers.
Problem was though, 99% of the time that we craved a snack, we ended up with cheese. Not just a small piece of run-of-the-mill supermarket Camembert or Brie. No, that would have been too bland...and reasonable. We 'snacked' on whole, fresh baguettes paired with bright & tangy Mimolette, sweet aged Gouda & sublimely stinky epoisses. And then we had lunch.
All this cheese left less room in the belly for pastry gorging than I had hoped. We are not quitters though, so we persevered, gazing into each Patisserie with discerning eyes, attempting to identify the very best reasons to consume another 1,000 calories that day. It was not a hard task, seeing as French Patisseries specialize in making everything on offer look absolutely perfect, delectable & delicious; in making the salivary glands get to
Beautiful palmiers (elephant ears made of puff pastry), guimauves (marshmallows) in flavors like Iranian pistachio and artistically composed macarons in an array of colors all beckoned from shop windows. So we ate. And continued to eat and eat (and drink wine, of course, c'est la France): creamy eclairs with dark chocolate ganache; crispy & air-light mille feuille with fresh strawberries; flaky croissant au beurre (never margarine) & the lovely, sticky-gooeyness of a 'simple' pain aux raisins. It was a glorious fog of butter, sugar & cream.
So did we leave with the inspiration we had hoped to find? Do we know what the next Marlo's Bakeshop product will be? Yes and no. I returned with a greater appreciation for French pastry than I had had, now knowing the work involved in making each one of these delicate gems . I also returned from Paris refreshed and reinvigorated, ready to get back into the test kitchen.
So stay tuned. Because- while it likely won't be a classic macaron or eclair that we release next- it will certainly be a worthy addiction.